It’s a truth universally known; dating sucks.
But not all communities date.
Muslims, for example, often get to know potential suitors with the aim of getting married as soon as possible.
This is to avoid premarital sex.
The dating pool might not scream talent, no matter what your preferences are, but when you add religion to the mix – in that, you’re trying to find someone on the same religious level as you – the pool may become smaller.
Recently, we wrote about why Muslim women find it difficult to find a partner.
A lot of the women said the issue came down to men not meeting them at their level.
But Muslim men also face challenges in finding someone to spend their lives with.
After all, Muslim men, like any group, are not a monolith – not all are mollycoddled and sheltered individuals, unable to reach the standards of Muslim women.
We spoke to five different Muslims based in the UK, US, and Canada.
Don, 28 The biggest challenge in preparing myself for marriage lies in the economic barriers to success.
With housing prices so high, and enormous competition for high salaried positions, it feels like if you haven’t met a set of arbitrary, sometimes unreachable goals, you’re not worthy of the long term investment needed for a marriage.
The persistent idea that you are measured against your salary and how much you’ve achieved by a certain time in your life can leave you feeling inadequate.
In addition, having been raised Muslim but not necessarily having dated Muslim women, it can often feel like my value set isn’t sought after in a culture that seemingly rewards excess or wealth.
It makes the search for someone special considerably [difficult] and has proven itself a likely pitfall for heartache when values inevitably clash in a long term relationship.
Mustafa, 27, UK Muslim dating apps are shit and the time it takes to communicate with someone is a turn off itself.
It’s a Muslim dating app and therefore you’re stepping on eggshells when it comes to flirting.
Some don’t reciprocate the flirting which turns you off from flirting at all! Some women certainly have a list of things they want in a man.
Some are so expansive, it’s not surprising they’re still single.
And I’ve generally heard that the men on there are either boring or just trash.
I think in general both sexes don’t know how to approach the app by being themselves.
I think they’re scared of the unknown or having the fear of being judged.
If you’re not meeting people via an app, it’s awkward meeting someone in real life especially if they bring someone with them.
A lot of women also have a preconceived idea of men from certain areas, such as Tower Hamlets.
One thing I find is that a lot of girls don’t have confidence and don’t show off their personality on the first meeting.
Nahid, 34, U.S At a certain age, (over 30) it becomes easier for men to find partners than it is for women.
This doesn’t seem unique to Muslim or South Asian culture.
I assume it’s because women tend to want to settle down at an earlier age as being single after a certain age is still somewhat frowned upon.
Women are more willing at an older age to settle or work out the differences.
They don’t want to be outside of societal norms.
But in some ways, I find that men of my age, ethnic and religious background in the west have to work a tad bit harder to find a suitable partner, especially if we’re limiting ourselves to partners of a similar background.
That’s because most of the backlash against Muslims is geared towards Muslim men.
Women, in general, are viewed as victims of male oppression.
So it becomes our burden to prove that we’re not the oppressor and work harder to prove that.
Our understanding of success in Muslim /Asian culture pivots around the notion that we’ll get married and settle down with kids.
Men’s goals and aspirations don’t usually stop there but women’s goals and aspirations are usually limited after marriage.
A large part of female success is therefore defined by finding the right partner for her ‘success’.
I wouldn’t say women are inherently less ambitious, but their ambitions are not directed to what a capitalist part of the world would call success.
Also, women from a Muslim background have culturally been dependent on male support, financially.
Not only am I fighting Islamophobia, at the same time I’m fighting to liberate women from male dependency.
These all take a mental toll and make it harder to marry.
Jamil, 26, UK I don’t think it’s actually that hard to find a partner when you’re a Muslim man.
I know loads of people (male and female) who are finding partners and getting married.
However, I do think marriage feels like a huge deal in the Asian Muslim community, so when people of a marriageable age start thinking about it, it feels like a huge pressure to find someone that they’re compatible with, especially when it’s something they may have neglected whilst they were pursuing other things like education, career, or travelling etc.
Also, I think people feel like they have to be the finished package before they are ready to spend their life with someone as opposed to growing as an individual with someone which can cause them to delay or neglect meeting people.
It doesn’t help that Asian weddings can be very expensive, so before considering getting married, many need to make sure they’ve got healthy bank balances.
Aden, 33, Canada I spent a large part of my youth chasing the wrong things and neglecting my responsibilities.
I think the family dynamic in my household and many other Muslim households has caused us as youth to make up our own ideals of how a wife or husband should be.
I personally would like to apologise to all the young Muslim women who have worked hard to help their families and educate themselves while some young Muslim men have gotten lost chasing the wrong things in life.
We men have done a great dishonour to our Muslim women and our responsibilities as Muslim men.
Most guys don’t get themselves together until they hit their 30s, that’s if they ever get it together, and by that time most guys will look to marry younger girls which in my opinion is wrong.
Muslim men need to take a page out of Ilhan Omar’s husband’s book, who stands by his wife and elevates her by supporting her.
My recommendation to Muslim women who are single and looking for marriage is; be positive at all costs while also practicing sabr (patience) and remember that God tests the ones he loves with the greatest tests so be patient and your reward will be great.